The Anaheim Ducks are settling into their new role as a powerhouse in the NHL and will have a chance to enhance that status when a second-consecutive last-place team comes to town.
The Arizona Coyotes will pay a visit to Anaheim on Friday, two days after the first-place Ducks pushed aside the Seattle Kraken in a 4-1 victory.
Considered in rebuild mode when the season began, the Ducks originally showed they had arrived earlier than projections with an eight-game winning streak that started on Halloween. Anaheim’s latest run of success has it recording points in eight of the last nine games (6-1-2), while winning four of the last five.
Where Troy Terry was the breakout star early in the season, Trevor Zegras’ production of late has made it a dynamic young duo for the Ducks. Both players scored a goal in the victory over the Kraken.
“We’re a pretty confident group right now,” said the Ducks’ Sam Carrick, who scored a third-period goal Wednesday. “We knew what our expectations were at the beginning of the year. … I think the guys have done an amazing job of believing in each other and sticking with each other.”
Derek Grant scored a short-handed goal for the Ducks in Wednesday’s game, while Terry’s was on the power play. Anaheim’s improved special-teams play has been a huge contributor in its emergence from a woeful team in each of the past three seasons.
The Coyotes know woe well in a trying season that has included front-office troubles like missed tax payments, troubles with its lease and a nod from Commissioner Gary Bettman that the team will be on the move, although it will stay in Arizona.
There hasn’t even been any respite from the drama on the ice, where the Coyotes started the season on an 11-game losing streak and are now on a six-game skid, while dropping eight of the last nine.
The latest defeat was a 3-2 close call at home against the New York Rangers on Wednesday. It was the first time the Coyotes had finished a game within a goal during the current losing streak.
Arizona had the lead midway through the third period after Clayton Keller’s goal at 8:47, but the Rangers scored a pair of power-play goals in the final 5:46, getting the tying goal from Mika Zibanejad and the game-winner from Kaapo Kakko with 2:18 to play. It was Kakko’s second of the game.
“I think it’s frustrating on our side because it’s three games in a row that we had more scoring chances than our opponent and we could not find a way to get a point in those three games,” Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny said.
Keller had a goal and an assist against the Rangers and now has a team-leading seven goals and 19 points.
“Overall, I think that’s how we want to play hockey games,” Keller said. “And it’s fun when you’re in games like that where it’s 2-1, 2-2 in the third period. That’s why you play this game, for games like that.”
–Field Level Media